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How well are infant and young child World Health Organization (WHO) feeding indicators associated with growth outcomes? An example from Cambodia

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We assessed eight World Health Organization (WHO) core child feeding indicators for their association with stunting and underweight in Cambodia in 2000 and 2005. We compared the feeding data from the Cambodian Demographic and Health Surveys for 2000 with 2005 for 0–24 months children using the WHO feeding indicators, with stunting and underweight as outcomes. Prevalence of stunting and underweight was significantly less in 2005 than in 2000 among children aged 0–5 and 6–11 months, but stunting among children 18–23 months remained >50%. Prevalence of compliance with seven of the eight core healthy feeding indicators was higher in 2005. Exclusive breastfeeding among 0–5 months infants increased more than fivefold; among 6–11 and 12–17 months children, prevalence of feeding diversity and meeting a minimally acceptable diet, while improved, remained ≈25%. Modelling showed compliance with breastfeeding indicators was associated with reduced risk of underweight in 0–5 months infants, no association between compliance with feeding indicators and growth outcomes in other ages, and a significant association of higher relative wealth with growth outcomes overall. Between 2000 and 2005, Cambodia stabilized and focused resources on infant feeding. Prevalence of meeting the WHO feeding indicators improved, but modelling indicated that, in general, relative wealth, not feeding practices, was associated with improved growth outcomes. Yet, over 50% of children 18–23 months were stunted in 2005. Similar to the success with breastfeeding, focus on complementary feeding of 6–23 months children may reduce the risk of stunting in Cambodia.
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Keywords: breastfeeding promotion; child feeding; child growth; poverty; stunting; underweight

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Abt Associates, Inc., 4620 Creekstone Drive, Maplewood Building, Suite 190, Durham, North Carolina 27703, USA, 2: Abt Associates, Inc., 55 Wheeler Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA, and 3: Wyeth Nutrition, 500 Arcola Road, Collegeville, Pennsylvania 19426, USA

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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